2016 Favorites of the Year: Al Sparrow

Al Sparrow now adds his list of favorites as the regular contributors to the ComicSpectrum site each share a “Top 10” list for 2016.

We are not declaring our favorites to be magically the “best” things produced, but rather just  what they are, our favorite things. We were not constrained to any specific categories this year.  Each contributor was asked to pick 10 things they really liked that hit the stands in 2016.  Whether they were individual issues, series, trade paperbacks, books about comics, comics related toys, whatever. 

Take it away, Al!


2016 was a crazy year all around. I don’t think I have to tell anyone that. It did, however, give us some great comics to read. Here’s a few I really enjoyed:

blastfurnace

CREDIT: Ryan Browne

Favorite Book to Silence Anyone Who Says They Can’t Make Comics:
Blast Furnace: Recreational Thief! By Ryan Browne. (Crowdsourced)

Browne’s method for making this book is outlined right on the cover: One Hour Per Page + Zero Planning = One Sweet-Ass Story.  This book makes almost no sense, jumping from ridiculous plot point to even more ridiculous plot point. Yet it may very well be the most entertaining book I’ve read in the past few years, mostly because of that semi-organized chaos. Simply put, if Ryan Browne can devote an hour a day to create something this much fun to read, the rest of us are out of excuses.

slichman

CREDIT: Rapoza + Warren

Favorite Book for Anyone Who Played Dungeons & Dragons in the 1980s/1990s:
Steve Lichman, Vol. 1 by David Rapoza and Daniel Warren (Crowdsourced)

Ever wonder what all those monsters who dwell in the dungeon of your favorite RPG do while they’re waiting for your intrepid party to show up and do battle? Wonder no more…they live lives just a hair’s breadth removed from our own. They support (and ridicule) each other just like we “normal” humans do. A must for anyone tired of all the vampires showing up in our funnybooks these days.

monstergirl

CREDIT: Seven Seas

Favorite Book for Anyone Who Ever Wondered How to Have Sex with a Gargoyle: Monster Girl Encyclopedia Vol. 1 by Kenkou Cross (Seven Seas)

Not so much a comic as a…well, an encyclopedia (says so right in the title!)…this lavishly illustrated and meticulously thought-out book is chock full of information on pretty much any type of monster girl you could imagine. This being only the first volume, I’m guessing the author’s imagination might stretch a bit further than mine, so I’m interested to see what beastly femme fatales show up in volume 2.  A good companion book for anyone heavily into Monster Musume or the numerous other monster-girl books hitting the stands these days.

shgirls_finals

CREDIT: DC Comics

Favorite Book Designed to Sell You (or Your Children) Toys:
DC Superhero Girls: Finals Crisis by Shea Fontana and Yancey Labat (DC)

Make no mistake, this book (and its follow-up “Hits and Myths”) are out to get you to go the store and buy dolls, action figures, playsets, etc. It’s not the first comic to do this, and it certainly won’t be the last. That it’s able to be as charming as it is can (almost) make you forget its mission. Labat’s stylized artwork ties in nicely with the animated series as well as the toys themselves. Fontana, meanwhile, crafts fun all-ages stories that even the most disgruntled fanboy can enjoy. When was the last time Crazy Quilt was this much fun?

swords

CREDIT: Dynamite Comics

Favorite Book for the Superheroine Fans of Yesteryear (and Today!):
Swords of Sorrow: The Complete Saga by Gail Simone and more! (Dynamite)

They had me at Gail Simone overseeing a host of the comic worlds best writers and artists. They kept me with the characters these creators would be tackling: Red Sonja. Vampirella. Dejah Thoris. Ms. Masque. Lady Rawhide…all mashed together in a multi-issue epic. I resisted the temptation to pick up the individual issues because a crossover of this magnitude pretty much demands a collected edition. You can simply drool over the amazing artwork Dynamite has become known for, but with writers like Simone, Nancy Collins, and G. Willow Wilson at the helm, you’re doing yourself a disservice to ignore how well the stories all tie together.

insexts

CREDIT: AfterShock

Favorite Book to Scare the Hell Out of Male Chauvinists:
InSEXts by Marguerite Bennett and Ariela Kristantina (Aftershock)

It didn’t take long for Aftershock to become one of my favorite new publishers and this book is one of the two reasons why (the other one is a bit further down the list). Two women with a very dark, sinister secret trying to survive in oppressive Victorian England? Written by Marguerite Bennett? Yes, I’ll have some more of that, please.

thisdamned

CREDIT: Dark Horse

Favorite Book for the Air Guitarist Inside Us All:
This Damned Band by Paul Cornell and Tony Parker (Dark Horse)

In my younger days I played bass guitar in a number of bar bands you’ve never heard of, so I’m very critical of any comic that involves rock and roll but treats the bass player as an afterthought (or worse, doesn’t even include a bassist in the band). Alex Lodge, the troublemaking bassist for Motherfather, the titular “damned band” in this book, is my new hero, and Cornell and Parker are my heroes for giving him life. If you love “The Song Remains the Same” but wish it’d had a bit more Satan in it, pick this one up.

superzero

CREDIT: AfterShock

Favorite Book for the Hero-Wannabe Inside All of Us:
SuperZero by Jimmy Palmiotti, Amanda Conner, and Rafael de Latorre

I mentioned earlier that I had two reasons to put Aftershock down as my favorite new publisher. This is the second reason. Dru Dragowski doesn’t just have the desire to get superpowers and save the world…she’s putting her dreams into action. How hard could it be to get a radioactive spider to bite you? What harm could there be in hiring a hitman to kill your parents so you’ll become the next Batman? If Kick Ass is the rude reality of becoming a superhero, SuperZero is the fun flipside to getting there.

CREDIT: DC Comics

Favorite Book(s) from the Not-So-Distant Past:
Daring New Adventures of Supergirl Vol. 1 and Supergirl Vol. 1 by Peter David (DC)

Thank Rao that the Supergirl show on CBS was as successful as it was, because we’re seeing more and more of her comic-book adventures from the past getting the trade paperback treatment. Two in particular made me quite happy this year. Daring New Adventures collects the early 1980s run with artwork from Carmine Infantino, and was one of the books I loved reading in my teenage years. The Peter David run from the 1990s remains one of my favorite takes on the Maid of Might and it’s my fervent hope we’ll see the entirety of that run get chronicled.

tokyoesp

CREDIT: Vertical

Favorite Book about the X-Men Without an “X” in the Title:
Tokyo ESP by Hajime Segawa (Vertical)

While this series began publication in Japan in 2010 and stated US publication in 2015, each new volume released in 2016 immediately went to the top of my reading stack. Quite simply, it does the X-Men better than the X-Men do the X-Men. The war between ESPers (nee Mutants) and humanity is an ongoing struggle between those who want to use their powers for good and those who’d rather do evil. Sound familiar? Perhaps, but this series blends enough amazing writing and artwork to make you forget all about the word “Snikt!”


Thanks for sharing your favorites with us, Al!   Next time we’ll see what tickled Shawn Hoklas’ fancy in 2016!

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